Synopsis: Two astronauts attempt to survive as a series of misfortunes occurs- drifting in space, certain sacrifices are made and hardships test the very core of humans.
Before saying anything, I want to point out that the movie isn’t an action film or thriller so please do not be disappointed. It is a drama-based film. The setting of space is more of a metaphor than anything; a platform for her journey of overcoming grief. Ryan Stone had lost her child and, as she says in the movie, that she just keeps driving. In fact, she “drives”, for so long and so far out, that she finds herself in space, running away from her grief and distancing her emotional pain.
When she is in the Hubble and is taking of her spacesuit, there are a few seconds where she is curled up on herself, like a foetus in a mother’s womb- very symbolic of regeneration and, from that moment on, you know she is going to be reinventing herself. We can also see this journey from a “baby” to “toddler” in the end of the movie, where she crawls to the beach, struggles to stand up and is seen taking her “first” very wobbly and shaky steps on this earth. She has been born again and wiped away with a clean slate to which she starts life.
This movie is very inspiring in quite the literal and metaphorical sense. Literally, we see the ultimate human instinct to survive; the will to live observed so intensely over the journey. But, in terms of emotional stability, the will to live doesn’t have to be in life-or-death situations; but rather being able to actually live after something as devastating as a loss of a child occurs and the tackling of the grief is played out powerfully in the film. We all have the strength within us to carry on when we feel all hope is lost, but sometimes we need a little push (in the film, it came to Doctor Stone in the form of her friend Matt Kowalski) in order to tap into that strength. Her falling through the skies like a shooting star resembles hope- that she, at that moment, embodies the extraordinary hopefulness that mankind is capable of; She is not a survivor of a dangerous mission in space, but a champion in her triumph of her war with grief. She has finally learned to let go, stopped driving and has come back home
It was intriguing how they kept mentioning things such as “Silence; I could get used to this” or “the view is amazing” While all of that is true, the film seeks to answer the question, could we really live in space? Not in terms of the dangers of lack of oxygen or meteorites but would we be able to leave our earth? To live without contact from others? Humans are creatures of sentiment; it could be the reason for our ultimate destruction- or salvation as we glimpse in the film when she finds the motivation to live in the love of her daughter, rather in her self-pity which is often a paralytic. Upon being able to contact someone on earth, she asks them to make their dog bark and to continue singing a lullaby for their baby. Sure, space is beautiful with its sunrise and its many stars, but we can see all that from earth, too. We are curious enough to explore the universe as there is so much more we have yet to observe and learn. But, just like Ryan, we would start to miss the simple things that make our world; the singing of birds, the colours of the sky, the magnificence of the landscape , the warmth of our loved ones…why would we ever want to leave all that behind?
In terms of science, the movie attempted to be as realistic as possible- attempted being the operative word. We observe the Hubble and the ISS and the Chinese Space Station all within sight, when in reality, the ISS orbits 400 km above Earth, the Hubble at 560 and the Chinese station simply does not exist yet. In addition, the ease to which she changed orbital planes was exaggerated as they would be really time-consuming and energy intensive. The physics is wrong when we notice tension in the strings when, in space, it should be relatively easy to pull the cables. Similarly, Sandra Bullock’s tear drops would’ve just stuck to her face. I also had trouble believing that a medical engineer, which Ryan Stone was, would be granted permission to accompany the mission, let alone actually leave the interior of the Hubble, even if she had training for 6 months prior.
Overall, a brilliantly executed film with amazing special effects and realistic acting. Like I said before, it is drama-based film and should be judged accordingly. And for its genre, it is one of the best space films I have ever seen.
Verdict: 8 of 10 kicks